How To Use Filipino Flavors In Your Drinks?

How To Use Filipino Flavors In Your Drinks?

Ben Rojo, a bartender in New York City, claims that modern people have lived on the Philippines islands for over 50,000 years. "The culture is a living treasure trove for tastes both familiar and unfamiliar, with influences from all around the world."

Filipinos are known to be regular drinkers, and songs like Laklak and Inuman Na that have the theme of getting drunk sometimes idealize this drinking tradition in popular culture.

There are endless meals to taste across the 7,000 islands of the Philippines, including the common adobo, tuna marinated in calamansi and barbecued over coals, sweet purple ube, and longaniza sausages, which vary significantly in flavor and preparation from province to province.

This should not be surprising that all those flavors work incredibly well in drinks, as many bars have discovered. Calamansi may add a subtle citrus flare to any dish. Ube will offer a milkiness that coats the palate and a little sweetness. Shochu's grassiness is balanced by lemongrass, while an Old Fashioned, for example, adds a slight earthy sweetness from tamarind. A favorite among brewers, sweetly fragrant pandan leaves go well with everything from aquavit to absinthe.

Beer, spirits, or cocktail beverages may be served during Filipino parties for birthdays, fiestas, or simply a get-together of friends.

Here are a few alcoholic and non-alcoholic flavors that you should use in your drinks if you're prepared to indulge in the Philippines.

Fruit Flavors

Fruit Flavors In Your Drinks

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The little citrus calamansi, native to the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia, is highly acidic and flavorful. Although Diedrich warns that it needs a rich or fatty sweetness to temper the fruit's "bracing, chalky" qualities, it is a pleasant acid to use in drinks. According to Lee Watson, the bar consultant at the Japanese-Filipino izakaya Gugu Room in New York, "imagine a concentrated, unripe mandarin."

Instead of vodka, people choose Blanco tequila. Despite the fact that it probably tastes more like a Midori-flavored Margarita, the green herbal and vegetal flavors blend perfectly. The calamansi is concentrated, and strongly acidic flavors give the cocktail some complexity. With a salty tinge, a nori garnish balances the dish.

Another fruit that blends well with alcohol is the Philippine mango, which is also relatively simple to find. The Mexican mango, generally found in the United States, is sweeter than the Philippine mango, according to bartender Watson, who also provides advice on bar programs around Southeast Asia.

Local Spirits

Local Spirits In Your Drinks

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Of course, the Philippines is also the source of a variety of alcoholic ingredients. Rojo declares, "I love Filipino rum." Sugarcane has been a significant crop in the Philippines for over 4,000 years. The strong fruit and tropical flavor of the sugarcane grown in the Philippines are unlike anything I've ever tasted.

More traditional items are also available here that can be added to drinks. In Oakland, California's Viridian, bartender Napier Bulanan explains, "I like working with lambanog.

Because it is manufactured from coconut palm nectar, which grows wild across the islands, it is commonly mistaken for Filipino moonshine. Anyone who can distill can make it. The practice of passing down knowledge through families is expected.

Drinks Inspired From Culinary Traditions

Food With Drinks Inspired From Culinary Traditions

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Since the texture is so significant in Filipino cuisine,  bartender Rojo explains that she frequently uses pinipig (crisp puffed rice), latik (crumbly roasted coconut milk), and gulaman (soft grass jelly) to finish cocktails. In an Old Fashioned, using palm sugar and Filipino rum flavored with pandan, he'll add gulaman.

Don Papa rum, purple yam, coconut water, coconut milk, and pineapple juice are the ingredients for the final cocktail. They are combined with ice and finished with whipped coconut cream and a sprinkle of dried blueberries. It's the ideal summer beverage.

Bulanan bartender believes she most appreciates working with taste combinations that match the flavors of Filipino cuisine. She lists the flavors savory-sour and funky-sweet as two of her favorites. She adapts Negroni Sbagliato's formula for her Suplada Spritz by adding gin (ideally Bimini), sweet vermouth, and cava to a shrub of Filipino adobo (soy sauce and seasoned vinegar). You end up with something savory and dry with just enough sour to keep it interesting.

Filipino-Inspired Original Alcoholic Beverages

1.   Gin Pomelo/ Gin Pom

Gin Pomelo/ Gin Pom

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Crushed ice, gin (such as Ginebra "bilog"), and pomelo juice powder (such as pomelo-flavored powder mix from Tang juice brand) are combined to make the cocktail known as Gin Pomelo. When Tang released its "Litro Pack" line of powdered juices in the late 1990s, it quickly became the beverage of choice for younger drinkers.

2.   Kagatan


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The Tagalog word for "Biting" is kagatan. It was given the name "Kagatan" because it has the flavors Tanduay, Kape (coffee, milk), and Gatas (the Tanduay brand of rum). However, this cocktail has nothing to do with biting.

3.   Boracay

This beverage reportedly originated on the island of Boracay, hence its name. It contains gin, evaporated milk, rum, beer, chocolate malt powder, and finely ground peanuts. It is supposedly Bailey's Irish Cream in Filipino form.

4.   Mistisa

Mistisa is a mixture of Tanduay rhum, Red Horse beer, Sprite, and ice. This drink mix may be influenced by how one looks after drinking it. To enjoy this beverage during a "tagay" session with Filipino friends, combine them all.

5.   Buko Pandan

Buko juice is readily available in the country. Thus Filipinos are increasingly customizing their favorite summer beverage in exciting ways. The famous buko pandan salad, a popular treat among the natives, has a liquid companion in the form of buko pandan juice.

Pandan, milk, and buko are a sweet combination that provides delicious refreshments from the country's sweltering summer heat.

6.   Lambanog

The sap of an unopened coconut bloom is brewed and distilled to create this powerful coconut wine, often known as coconut vodka. It produces a potent beverage with at least 40% ABV.

While there are already a number of companies across the country that mass-produce this alcoholic beverage.


While Filipino cuisine currently has some popularity, Filipino cocktails deserve your attention. This list was intended to be restricted to this. However, you might wish to explore other well-known Filipino beverages, including dalandan juice, buko salad drink, and Filipino iced tea.

Depending on where you go in the Philippines, you can get a bunch of lesser-known regional alcoholic beverages, including bahalina, kinutil, and tuhak, many of which I've never heard of. Some have deep roots in the regional culture and are pretty interesting.